Amy & Bruce In Sweden
The trouble with Amy Sohn is that she's no Candace Bushnell. Compared to the struggling nobodies and poor slobs Amy knows and writes about, Bushnell's rich and famous are interesting, even if their names aren't revealed. Bushnell also wrote with style and class.
Sohn doesn't deserve to be working for the same paper as Cindy Adams, a very classy lady. In my view, Sohn is a female version of Curtis Sliwa, the vile, gross, loathsome, declasse, motor-mouth talk-show host I stopped listening to when his act became transparent and sophomorically boring.
Maybe Sohn should hang around Sliwa, who could introduce her to the rich and famous, so that when she writes about Derek Jeter again she can write something deeper than, "I see Derek Jeter walking toward his cubby. I smell my armpits?not bad?take a few halting steps toward him and introduce myself. He shakes my hand. (I vow to lick it as soon as I leave the room)."
Or: "But then I again, I already knew Derek was a chick-hound."
Let's hope Derek doesn't hound a chick like Amy Sohn, who, when she doesn't get assignments to mingle with somebodies, writes about nobodies who can't even afford cab fare.
Susan Smpadian, Manhattan
It took me a while to get to Andrey Slivka's long article on the Clinton househunting in Westchester ("Hell's Half Acre," 9/8), but I am glad that I did. I really don't give a flying fuck about where Hillary Clinton will sit on a toilet after she leaves the White House. I sort of wish that Slivka were chasing Cheever, or some anonymous private eye, rather than the First Lady. The powerful writing in this piece is all about the place, and not about the politics. Maybe I am fascinated by descriptions of suburbia because it is a landscape I have never known personally, but Slivka makes me feel like I have been there, seen that, done it. If Slivka isn't working on a novel, or at least a collection of short stories, you should put him on sabbatical and force it.
Rob Jones, Manhattan
"...But he's a bigot, a protectionist and anti-Semite who appeals to the very worst instincts of the American people." Wow, a MUGGER (9/15) thought I agree with completely. A miracle!
Mort Weintraub, Larchmont, NY
MUGGER: After reading your column today in the Jewish World Review I am puzzled as to your comments regarding Pat Buchanan. What evidence can you cite for your charge that Buchanan is a bigot and an anti-Semite? I don't intend to vote for Buchanan no matter what party he's in, but I do agree with many of his ideas, specifically regarding American foreign policy and immigration policy. It bothers me that you would smear him in this way, just like a typical liberal reporter. Again, I ask, what is your evidence? Please respond with the facts and not some jibe about "Midwestern rubes."
Mike Mantho, Cleveland
One of the reasons I rarely write letters to publications anymore is because of the inherent unfairness factor involved. You published a piece by William S. Repsher ("Music," 9/8); I responded as a reader of your newspaper ("The Mail," 9/15). The way I see it, Repsher had his say in his piece. For him to take another shot, and one directly at me rather than the issues I raised, becomes nothing more than a chance to second-guess and hopefully cover his own messy tracks. Therefore, I feel I must once more take to my pen and respond?and this time directly, as Repsher chose to do toward me. Funny, isn't it, how so-called "critics," amateur and otherwise, love to dish it out, but just can't seem to take it. I called a spade a spade, and Repsher's response was to indirectly threaten to hit me over the head with one, after, earlier in his remarks, he indirectly threatened to take me out in the alley with those working-class heroes his ongoing lack of self-worth is twisted up with and introduce me to them "personally." Interesting. And unfortunate.
So. My insulting blather, Repsher? I think you have your signals a bit crossed. Indeed, your initial reaction is to defend your factory coworkers (who, according to your own portrait of them, don't seem to need your help in that area, God help us all) instead of yourself. That reveals your lack of true introspection, let alone courage. Who do I think Bruce Springsteen is writing about in his songs, Mr. Repsher? Here's a real bulletin for you: Himself. And that's why all of us, including you, genius, are compelled to listen to them.
You would help yourself enormously if you stopped hiding behind the attractive facade of Springsteen's presence, music and success (come on, the article did have Springsteen's name in the title, on the front page; and the first graph did take place at the Continental Arena during Bruce's summer tour) as a lure to get us to listen to your vomiting up of some stale "personal" tales of your own professional (and journalistically boring) personal ineptitude. Try to stop simultaneously loathing and admiring your own disguised weaknesses through the widespread strengths of others. What do icons deserve, Mr. Repsher? Not having their names used as a lure to suck a reader into first-person wanks about decidedly uniconic nobodies like yourself.
By the way, you tell us a lot about your true feelings regarding Springsteen because of a basic journalistic rule you're apparently not familiar with?full disclosure. You ought to pick it up and read it sometime. If you can't afford a copy, I'll gladly send you mine. In it you might discover a little something about working-class heroes you don't know, even though you write as if you, er, wrote the book on the subject. True working-class literates, a group in which I cannot include you, but do include Bruce and myself, use that background not as the grand theme of their work, but as the point of departure to lead to bigger, better and more interesting professional, and perhaps personal, lives. I hope this last little bit of info somehow finds its way to that wonderful gang of "factory coworker" goons you're so taken with. You might actually learn something about what you aspire to write of?for instance, that Bruce Springsteen has done more charitable work and contributed to more worthy causes (with less publicity and self-aggrandizement) that benefit those in our society not as economically fortunate as himself than you and the rest of your bozo gang of "working-class heroes" who cover up their own failures and sexual insecurities by categorizing artists that have actually done something with their lives as "millionaire faggots."
My final piece of advice to you, pal, is to take your own intuitively correct suggestion to go back to treating telephone poles and leave the talking to those of us who actually have something to say.
Marc Eliot, Manhattan
William Repsher replies: I'm disappointed, Marc. You didn't mention any of your out-of-print unauthorized biographies in this bizarre, prolonged fit.
What issues did you raise in your last letter, by the way? You called me names, made a series of points that had nothing to do with my article, got upset because there exist working-class people who might actually be homophobic, wrote the kind of bullshit press-release material (Springsteen's "super soul"?) about Springsteen that I've been dodging for 25 years and promoted yourself thoroughly. ("[F]ull disclosure"? Right.)
I should "leave the talking to those of us who actually have something to say"? Exactly what do you have to say, Marc? All we're getting here are abusive rantings from a nasty little record industry logroller who's obviously learned little from Springsteen's songs.
The editors reply: What a joke. Repsher writes a sweet, nostalgic piece about the intersection of his working-class identity and his Springsteen fandom; Eliot, outraged that another writer's chosen not to fellate a rich, famous rock star in print with the same sycophantic gusto with which he himself would, writes us a letter attacking Repsher personally and viciously; and then when we allow Repsher to publish what was, under the circumstances, a rather gentlemanly reply to Eliot's provocation, Eliot starts bitching about the "inherent unfairness factor involved." Beautiful: Eliot expects his targets to play dead as soon as he starts flashing his extremely distinguished credentials, as if anybody cares. It works like this, buddy: You send us any sort of letter you want, and we'll publish it, because that's the sort of guys we are. But if we think it bears a response, then it'll get one. Dig?
In the meantime, it might save us all a lot of time and effort if Eliot would fax us a list of icons and famous millionaires he'd rather our writers didn't treat with anything less than the proper, toadying reverence. Who's it going to be? Who else is off-limits? Sting? Lindsey Buckingham? Ron Perelman? Henry Kissinger? Who?
That fax number's 244-9864.
Since I last wrote many moons ago about the demise of culture in my attempts to get NYPress to do a review on our book Style: Writing from the UnDerGround, I noticed several of my comments about your paper were picked up on and taken to heart. Well, maybe it's better to say, taken to the bank. I had wondered how long a downtown (your offices were then downtown) weekly could get away without an art critic, and now one is smartly placed in the broadsheet. And that "MUGGER" column finally got a byline, after pretending for so long to be from the streets.
Then there was your obvious lack of photos. A selective, though minimal, use of photography (extended-family portraits and pleasurable/business trips) started to pop up?or let's say prop up that "MUGGER" column, now bylined Russ Smith. The photos were mysteriously credited to no one. Had photography reached its postmodern peak in a New York City weekly? An unanimous hyperreality of yuppie-ism. The loss of irony had cast its shadow upon us. A NYPress style had developed?the flashes, reflected on tv screens, signified the multi-modes of a point and shoot. Real dope!
Then, at the end of summer, that "MUGGER" column?bylined Russ Smith?didn't appear, and in its place there was a photo cover story about the Million Youth March with more photos (this time credited to someone) inside. Ah! That's the only way other photos appear?when that "MUGGER," bylined Russ Smith (can I just call you Mugga?), is nowhere around.
Mugga, you bitch! You're hoarding all the flicks. And what a blatant jealous attack on Lynn Yeager's "StreetStyle" column in the Voice ?conjured while stuck in a cab during a natural disaster. Who reads her silly column when everyone looks at it. I have been envious of her for years. It is the only weekly column accessible to photographers. And you know damn well the public looks at your column first before they decide to read it or not. I bet you edit, maybe even design, your own pages. No one has welded more cultural privilege with the use of words and photos in a weekly since some poor photographer was doing it in the style section of the Soho Weekly News back in the late 1970s. But that's history in this two-megabit town. Be forewarned?if you keep it up, you will only breed invidia and a more ancient jinx will fall upon you.
Of course my services are always available. This isn't blackmail or anything, but I have a great idea for a weekly that would run both NYPress and the Voice out of town.
Schmidlapp, IGTimes, Manhattan
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